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How to Build CRM for eCommerce: A Complete Guide

Most eCommerce businesses have little difficulty in landing their first customers. However, getting repeat sales is a tougher challenge, but it is key for eCommerce growth. Hence, store owners use CRM for eCommerce to better engage their customers, improve retention, and increase revenue.

According to a Harvard Business School survey, increasing customer retention by 5% can increase profits by up to 95%. This applies to the eCommerce industry, where customer engagement occurs without conventional face-to-face interaction. Instead, online retailers rely on customer data and historical purchase records to craft their marketing, support, and engagement strategies

E-commerce CRM solutions make customer analysis and engagement much more effortless for online retailers.

My name is Yan Likarenko and I’m a Product Manager at Uptech – a software development company. We combine our product mindset with tech expertise and help you build great software solutions that users love.

Over my experience in product development, I’ve helped startup and enterprise projects in both B2B and B2C domains to launch products successfully and meet both user and business needs. My expertise includes a wide range of industries, including fintech (Investment platform), healthcare, and social apps (Yaza).

In this eCommerce CRM guide, I’ll show you options when developing a custom CRM for eCommerce. More importantly, you’ll learn why CRM software is instrumental to scaling your eCommerce operations.

how to build crm system

Why do SMBs in the eCommerce Industry Need a CRM Solution?

eCommerce SMBs face stiff competition to acquire customers, retain them, and turn buyers into loyal fanbases. A buyer may not return if they feel disengaged or have a lackluster experience when interacting with the online store. Conversely, happy buyers make more purchases throughout their customer lifecycle. According to a study, loyal customers spend 67% more on purchases than new buyers.

how to build crm system

A CRM solution allows eCommerce retailers to understand:

  • customer behavior;
  • manage supply demand;
  • collect data from various interaction points.

Without a CRM, eCommerce SMBs lack sufficient actionable insights to support their business strategies. Learning how to create eCommerce CRM software places e-retailers in a stronger position to compete globally.

With eCommerce software, SMBs are equipped with real-time data that they can harness to meet customers' expectations. For example, you can predict seasonal demands for specific products from the CRM data and ensure sufficient inventories and logistic arrangements. This improves customer satisfaction and will likely turn them into loyal, returning buyers.

We offer full-cycle eCommerce software development services. Check them out!

Benefits of CRM in eCommerce

Integrating CRM into eCommerce platforms allows online retailers to remain competitive in challenging markets. I share several benefits below.

Enable sales growth

eCommerce CRM software allows you to reach customers in different segments effectively and increases repeat purchases. For example, you can analyze customer demographics and purchasing patterns from CRM and cross-target different customer groups with relevant products. Analyzing CRM data also uncovers opportunities that marketers might miss with manual approaches.

Reduce customer retention costs

Retaining customers is expensive, and only 20% of eCommerce businesses allocate sufficient budget to do so. With a CRM, online retailers can reduce their churn rate while keeping their budgets tight. CRM helps mitigate several causes of customer losses, including poor customer service and misaligned purchasing experience.

Improve supply and demand planning

Forecasting supply and demand is pivotal to ensure seamless eCommerce operations. Overstocking can stifle eCommerce cash flow, while understocking causes delivery delays that turn away customers. With CRM, eCommerce can leverage historical sales data to anticipate demands and plan inventories.

Enable targeted marketing and advertising

Personalizing customer journeys often leads to higher sales revenue per transaction. The challenge lies in consolidating and analyzing data to support such efforts. By connecting CRM to customer data, eCommerce businesses can serve customers with personalized ads, product recommendations, and offers aligned with their interests.

Improve customer experience

Customers expect eCommerce businesses to be always accessible across all channels. CRM solutions provide tools and features that allow you to strengthen your presence on multiple platforms. Additionally, you can use CRM to support customer engagement with behavioral data, market trends, and historical feedback. For example, you can receive alerts for abnormally high abandoned carts and investigate the root cause.

Optimize after-sales service

eCommerce CRM solutions enable businesses to prioritize after-sales service, a move that will more likely turn new customers into repeat buyers. With CRM, retailers can automatically track deliveries, send survey forms, and conduct follow-ups to ensure all customers are happy with their purchases.

Enable logistics optimization

Logistics may cost online retailers up to 15% or more if mishandled. A CRM helps you to manage logistics costs, assess risks, and identify process bottlenecks that affect your business’s financial position. Moreover, you can minimize delays by anticipating seasonal demands and engaging more logistic providers in specific shipping regions.

Custom CRM VS Ready-Made Solution

When you seek information for learning how to build an eCommerce CRM system, you often come across custom and off-the-shelf software. Most eCommerce owners wonder which is a better fit for their business.

Rather than dismissing one for the other, I’ll share an unbiased comparison of both to help you make an informed decision.

custom crm vs ready-made crm

Off-the-shelf CRMs

Ready-made CRMs are available in the public software marketplace and offered as generic solutions for all retail niches. eCommerce startups and smaller retailers use off-the-shelf CRMs because they are easy to get started with.

Pros

  • Generic solutions are cost-friendly, making them favorable for eCommerce businesses with tight budgets.
  • They consist of standard features that retailers can use for various niches.
  • Setting up generic CRM software is straightforward, and they usually are easy to use.

Cons

  • Off-the-shelf CRM lacks customization and integration flexibility.
  • Retailers may not use all the features the CRM provides.
  • Most generic CRM can’t scale across market verticals, limiting their relevance in retail expansion.
  • Ready-made CRMs that are not designed wisely can be overloaded and bring no use for small and medium businesses.

Generic CRMs are cost-friendly options that help eCommerce startups operational quickly. Use off-the-shelf CRMs if you’re starting a simple eCommerce on a limited budget.

how to build custom crm

Custom CRMs

Custom CRMs are developed from scratch based on the specific requirements of an online retailer. Growing eCommerce businesses favor custom-made CRMs because they need the flexibility they offer.

Pros

  • Custom CRMs are easily customized, allowing retailers to introduce new features to support their operational needs.
  • These CRMs are also integration-friendly. You can integrate 3rd party providers into your CRM system, which brings more value to users. Or developers can enable data exchange and automation with existing software you use.
  • Scalability is another advantage that custom CRMs offer. Retailers can expand CRM features and capacities to support growing products, users, and market segments.

Cons

  • Customized CRM software is more expensive because they are exclusively built for a single retailer.
  • It takes time to develop a CRM solution from scratch.
  • Retailers need special arrangements for implementation, training, and post-deployment support.

Custom CRMs are best suited for online retailers with complex requirements. Choose or migrate to a custom-made CRM if your eCommerce operations have outgrown your existing CRM solution.

How to Create a CRM System from Scratch

Standardized CRM may not be ideal for eCommerce businesses with complex or evolving requirements. If your online store needs more than a generic solution., follow the steps to create eCommerce CRM software.

how to buld a custom crm from scratch

Step 1: Determine the technical requirements

Some retailers rely on computers to run their eCommerce software. Others may host such solutions on the cloud to support mobile users. Take note of the limitations and opportunities of each technical setup and use them to design the CRM software. For example, a cloud CRM solution needs scalable computing resources, secure third-party storage, and reliable API integrations.

Step 2: Decide on features and roles

Large enterprises often need a comprehensive CRM solution that manages every aspect of sales, inventories, marketing, and customer support. Smaller retailers require basic features, such as lead management and sales team productivity monitoring. Shortlist key features that align with your business needs.

At the same time, consider roles the CRM software must incorporate to support your eCommerce team. For example, some companies allow system administrators, store managers, sales reps, and customer support access to the platform, but with different privileges.

Step 3: Estimate the cost

Calculate the cost involved in developing a CRM solution from scratch. The cost differs for each project and depends on:

  • Complexity
  • Development time.
  • Fees

Use our app development cost calculator to get an approximate estimate of your development expenses.

Step 4: Develop the CRM

With the requirements sorted out, you build the software. eCommerce retailers either hire an in-house team or outsource CRM development to an external software studio. Depending on your choice, you may enjoy more affordable development, reliable support, and less technical involvement from your team. Compare the pros and cons of both in-house vs. outsourcing here.

Step 5: Deploy the system

Once thoroughly tested, deploy the CRM and onboard your employees onto the platform. When deploying custom-made CRM software, training is often required. Developers must work closely with business teams to ensure all CRM users are properly trained. Besides, you must ensure proper data migration to avoid disrupting ongoing eCommerce operations.

Key Features of CRM eCommerce Software

These features are what you need to make an eCommerce CRM Software.

Data analytics

Data analytics provide actionable insights that enable your business to respond promptly to fast-changing environments. For example, CRM allows you to visualize market trends, forecast supply prices, and anticipate seasonal challenges.

Chatbots

CRMs with AI chatbots ensure that your business is always reachable to customers. Customers can ask questions, track deliveries, and manage their purchases without being limited to traditional business hours.

Marketing and customer service automation

eCommerce retailers strive to maintain a lean customer support and marketing team when scaling their business. Adding automation features in the CRM enables retailers to expand marketing activities without incurring excessive expenditure. For example, a CRM can automatically send marketing emails without manual intervention.

Customer satisfaction tracking tool

This feature allows retailers to manage customer complaints and resolve them promptly. For example, customer support teams can respond to refunds, exchange requests, and other issues before they escalate.

How To Choose a CRM System for Your eCommerce Business

Every eCommerce business is unique, and there are no one-size-fits-all CRM solutions. Therefore, when choosing CRM software, consider these factors.

what to consider when buiding a crm

Business needs

Do you need a CRM that meets basic customer management needs? For example, most online retailers need a solution that tracks leads and automates marketing campaigns. Or does your business require a more complex solution to integrate with existing IT systems? Answering such questions helps clarify your options.

Cost

CRM providers price their solutions differently. Some may provide a free trial before onboarding your business to a subscription model. Others may charge a one-time license fee on top of monthly support plans. Choose CRM software that fits your budget.

Compare different CRMs

Not all CRMs are a good fit for your business. Some CRMs are designed as scalable cloud solutions, while others are offered as standalone systems for smaller businesses. Compare features that each CRM provides and ensure they align with your customer and sales management needs.

Ask for a trial

Purchasing a CRM might be a considerable investment for some businesses. Therefore, testing it out before committing is prudent. Some off-the-shelf CRM software offers a free trial, or you can arrange a demo session with the provider.

How Uptech Can Help to Develop an eCommerce CRM

Developing eCommerce CRM solutions requires technical expertise, software development skills, and a strong understanding of online marketplaces. Uptech was named as the best eCommerce softwre development company and we offer all of those and more. As an international software development company, our team has charted stellar results, building purposeful solutions for eCommerce clients.

These are some notable works we did:

We helped Dollar Shave Club revamp its mobile apps with engaging UI elements to improve customer retention and engagement.

how to build custom crm

Our team built Goat, an ecommerce platform for apparel and sneakers patronized by 30 million customers in over 170 countries.

how to build custom crm

We’ve also worked on Eatable – a foodtech compay from Sweden, helping them to build a platform for goastkithen from the very beginning.

At Uptech, we complement our software development capabilities with discovery to ensure product-market fit. In this process, we analyze your requirements and how they align with the end user's needs. This helps us to develop solutions that solve real problems and meet your expectations.

As an eCommerce client of ours puts it, “It’s always helpful to know that we can give them a task and have them execute it autonomously.”

how to build crm

Summary

eCommerce CRM enables efficient customer management, sales tracking, inventory controls, and more for online retailers. From reducing customer churn to optimizing logistics workflow, CRM benefits retailers in many areas. While off-the-shelf CRM allows eCommerce owners to improve customer engagement affordably, a custom-made solution is helpful in meeting evolving requirements.

I’ve shared how you can build CRM software from scratch and the basic features the solution needs. Most retailers find partnering with an experienced development team helpful in developing their custom CRM. And we can help you to build one that meets your specific needs.

Talk to our team to streamline your eCommerce operations with a custom CRM.

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